Archives for 2016

Abilene State Park – Lake Abilene in Tuscola, Texas (Taylor County)

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About the State Park

Details of Park Entrance Signs & Rockwork | Photo credit: Texas State Archives

Details of Park Entrance Signs & Rockwork | Photo credit: Texas State Archives

Abilene State Park is a 529-acre park located on the eastern shore of Lake Abilene in Tuscola, Texas in Taylor County. Activities include: bicycling, boating, camping, fishing, hiking, geocaching, nature study, picnicking, swimming, and wildlife observation. The park’s swimming pool is open during the summer months.

Wildlife viewing opportunities exist for white-tailed deer, raccoons, nine-banded armadillos, foxes, Eastern fox squirrel and rock squirrel, Eastern cottontail, and coyotes. [Read more…]

White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Doe and fawns - Photo © Justin W. Moore

Doe and fawns
Photo © Justin W. Moore

White-tailed deer are the most abundant large game species in North America. The whitetail population is largest in Texas, where an estimated three to four million of the deer reside. Their characteristic tails are held erect when fleeing to display the white underside; the rest of their body is reddish-brown in summer and grayish-brown in winter. Fawns less than six months of age have bright white spots scattered on their coats. Adult bucks can attain lengths of over six feet and weight up to three hundred pounds; adult does tend to be smaller.

Like mule deer, white-tailed bucks grow a new set of antlers every year, shedding the old ones after the rut (breeding season) is over. Whitetail antlers are comprised of one main beam per antler; in mature bucks, each beam may have three or more tines sprouting from the beam.

White-tails live primarily in wooded and brushy areas, such as the Texas Hill Country. This type of habitat offers good cover, as well as access to a wide variety of food sources, such as: woody plants, shrubs, fruit, and grass. Deer also occasionally damage landscaping and household gardens in suburban areas.

The optimal time to view whitetail deer is during the summer, after the fawns have been born and the bucks are no longer pressured by the biological drive to breed. Abundant throughout the state, whitetails can be seen at most Texas parks.

Three excellent Texas parks for whitetail viewing are the Calliham unit of Choke Canyon State Park, Kerrville-Schreiner Park, and South Llano River State Park in Junction. The deer at Choke Canyon are particularly habituated to humans, due to visitors’ habit of providing deer corn and feed.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

Black-bellied whistling duck at the San Antonio Zoo - Photo © Justin W. Moore

Black-bellied whistling duck at the San Antonio Zoo
Photo © Justin W. Moore

Many birders travel to Texas to glimpse the black-bellied whistling duck, a year-round resident of the lower Texas Gulf Coast and other portions of the state. The whistling duck is also found in Mexico, Central and South America and occasionally in Arizona, California and Louisiana, as well.

Known for its high-pitched whistling call, the whistling duck’s long legs and neck are reminiscent of a goose. Males and females are identical in appearance, body rust-brown with a black belly and tail. The face is gray, with a white ring around the eye, and a bright red bill and legs. In flight, the bird’s white wing-patch is visible as a stripe. [Read more…]